Take time to visit Castle Tioram, the ancient fortress of the MacDonalds. Castle Tioram was built in the mid 13th century and extended in the 14th century as a testament to the independent rule of Rough Bounds by the Clanranalds, Lords of the Isles.
It is situated in a strategic location on a rocky tidal island of Eilean Tioram at the confluence of Loch Moidart and the River Shiel, occupying the whole summit of the rock in Moidart.
The Castle is surrounded by a pentagonal, round angled, curtain wall dating from 13th century with later modifications. The curtain wall has a barrel vaulted entrance facing landward (northeast) with a small machicolation above (i.e. a floor opening to allow discharge of objects onto attackers of the castle). There was also a back entrance (a postern), that was later blocked in during the late 17th century.
The main building inside the curtain wall consists of an apartment block above a cellar, dating from the early 17th century, extending an earlier wooden feasting hall asnd small 14th century tower. The building has large window openings, a projecting gabled stair tower (stair turret) and large internal apartments. On one side, the building supports an additional storey containing corbelled bartizans and castellation.
The kitchen was sited in the south corner between the tower house and the main building. The tower house with crenulated ramparts is situated adjacent to the eastern curtain wall. It was possibly added in 14th century and included a cellar, first floor room and a second floor bedroom apartment. Rounded turrets and an additional floor were added in the 17th century. A garderobe was also built by the east wall with latrine chute exiting through the wall.
The Castle’s reputation as an impenetrable stronghold is borne of its design, construction and location. It has been taken only once and then by deception and cunning. It was set alight in the 18th century on the order of Allan, 14th chief to prevent it falling into the hands of the Government. It now stands as a sombre testament to the changing fortunes of the Clanranalds.
See History Walks in Moidart 4 ( A visit to Eilean Tioram and Castle Tioram) for a historical account of the castle, its features and clan history.